Women Became the Main Workforce during World War 1

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The Horse Fair painting by Rosa Bonheur, dated back to 1855, were the artist predominantly focused her subject matter on animals. This period was known as realism and her work focused on the environment, ordinary life of farmer’s and how their work with animals evolved. The term realism originated from France, approximately in 1840 and artists were known to capture everyday life in varying classes of society. (Mindedge, 2019) From this period the painter captured how life was structured within society, economically, constitutionally, which sometimes produced intense impressions of everyday grueling lifestyles.

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This period moved away from the ideal and moved towards the more ordinary subject, to include depiction of real people and everyday struggles.(Myers, 2008) As the French were defeated in the war against Germany in 1871, this was accountable for the slowing of industrialization at this time. Furthermore, World War 1, saw the movement of many women having to take on the roles of work, typically done by man and thus women became the main workforce at this point. (Myers,2008)

Industrialization brought about changes to social classes and their grueling working conditions, which in turn making the owners wealthy. This led to unrest with the workers, who recognized that without them, the machines would stop, and production could be affected, ultimately causing financial loss for the owners. This triggered an uprising of employees who were defeated by the driving force and ongoing Industrial Revolution.

A2) Realist artistry during this period focused their efforts on unpleasant topics such as poverty and violence. They described via artistic impression, people’s ordinary life and criticized discriminations that occurred during the Industrial Revolution era. This stressed the variances between the less well-off and social classes and the impact it had on lives. (“Rosa Bonheur”, 18th April 2020)

Women in this period were restricted from pursing education in the artistic realm, causing many at this time to turn their efforts with painting landscape, still life and less important matters. Also, they were not encouraged to stray from their expected role as wives and mothers. (“Rosa Bonheur”, 18th April 2020)

Rosa Bonheur did not follow social norms, remained unmarried, was trained by her father who believed in gender equality and supported his daughter’s vocation. Her interest with her subject caused her to frequent “masculine” arenas such as abattoirs and horse fairs to gain a wider knowledge of the animals’ emotions even at the ghastliest stages. Bonheur’s painting The Horse Fair, emphasized her love of animals. She would study them closely in varying motions and in detail. Her work captures the intensity of the wild horses. The energy of the horses and the controlling of the horse handlers, focused the viewer to understand that the “Horse is , like man, the most beautiful and most miserable of creatures, only, in the case of man, it is vice or property that makes him ugly” This summed up how the horse is compared to a slave, to man’s self-indulgent behavior. (“Rosa Bonheur”, 18th April 2020)

A3) Rosa Bonheur’s life began with predominately female company, until her interest with animals took her into the male domain. This caused her to cast aside the female role and attire and she began to dress the way of a man, which she continued for the rest of her days. Her success with art at this time encouraged other artists with increased equality in this vocation. Her rebelliousness and forthrightness and being a successful feminist, forced many to reconsider the role of women artists and opened doors for many. (“Rosa Bonheur”, 18th April 2020)

In her private life, she was openly lesbian, and this would have been deemed improper at this time. But due to her honesty, many frontiers were broken. She was her own boss and focused very much on her career. She opened the doors for many female artists alike and encouraged them to follow their dreams, even if the path did not follow the customary norms. She was undoubtedly the pinnacle of feminism of her day.

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Women Became The Main Workforce During World War 1. (2022, Apr 18). Retrieved January 27, 2023 , from

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